Turkish journalist briefly detained over cartoon post on social media

Turkish police on Wednesday briefly detained journalist and author Enver Aysever for “inciting the public to hatred and animosity”over a social media post, T24 news site reported.

The daily Cumhuriyet columnist’s detention was sparked by a cartoon he posted on Twitter in March last year, which depicted a man in a hazmat suit disinfecting the head of a person dressed in Islamic attire.

“This is the only problem,” Aysever captioned the image, in an apparent reference for the need to cleanse minds of strict religious dogma.

In an indictment prepared in November, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office demanded up to 18 months in prison against Aysever on charges of insulting religious values. Meanwhile, a separate case was opened against the artist behind the caricature, Mehmet Birol Çün.

The columnist on Wednesday testified as part of the ongoing case, T24 said.

Press freedom in Turkey has seen a sharp decline in recent years under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the country has become one of the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists, with years-long pre-trial detentions and long jail sentences being common occurrences.